Salivary glands as organs of immunity: New research makes oral immunization easier to swallow

February 10, 2011

If you don't like shots or needles, you're in luck. New research published online in The FASEB Journal gives the development of new oral vaccinations a shot in the arm thanks to discoveries involving the salivary glands of mice. In addition, this research report also offers a tantalizing glimpse of vaccines that could prevent infection at mucosal surfaces, even if direct injections into the body fail to cause immunity. This technique may be effective for a wide range of diseases from influenza to cholera.

"Our work highlights the ability of the salivary glands to act as an alternative mucosal route for administering vaccines, which would lead to protective immune responses both locally and systemically," said Lucille London, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the School of and Department of Oral Biology and Pathology at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, NY. "Thus, in the future, inoculation may become a clinically acceptable method in which to vaccinate groups of individuals against new and emerging pathogenic challenges."

To make this advance, the researchers studied two groups of mice. The first group received live cytomegalovirus directly into their salivary glands. These mice demonstrated an immune response in the salivary glands, and the researchers observed an increase in the number and types of cells associated with that were protective in the saliva. Importantly, these antibodies were also found in other mucosal secretions and in the serum of these mice, suggesting that these proteins spread to other locations in the body.

Additionally, the researchers observed structural and functional changes in the immunized salivary glands, causing them to resemble lymph node-like structures commonly seen in injection-based immunizations. The second group of mice was given an inactive virus that did not cause an infection in the salivary glands. These mice demonstrated no active when compared to the first group. When both sets of mice were exposed to the same virus at a later time, only the group immunized with an active virus was protected from future infection. This discovery opens the doors for similar research involving the use of weakened viruses to determine if they will also confer immunity through salivary glands.

"It's no fun for doctors or parents when kids struggle during routine immunization," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The . "It's even less fun when you are dealing with adults who are deathly afraid of shots in various parts of their body. This work shows that salivary glands may become the first line of defense in active and passive immunization."

More information: Salivary glands act as mucosal inductive sites via the formation of ectopic germinal centers after site-restricted MCMV infection FASEB J fj.10-174656; doi:10.1096/fj.10-174656

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Cinnamon turns up the heat on fat cells

November 21, 2017
New research from the University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute has determined how a common holiday spice—cinnamon—might be enlisted in the fight against obesity.

How rogue immune cells cross the blood-brain barrier to cause multiple sclerosis

November 21, 2017
Drug designers working on therapeutics against multiple sclerosis should focus on blocking two distinct ways rogue immune cells attack healthy neurons, according to a new study in the journal Cell Reports.

New simple test could help cystic fibrosis patients find best treatment

November 21, 2017
Several cutting-edge treatments have become available in recent years to correct the debilitating chronic lung congestion associated with cystic fibrosis. While the new drugs are life-changing for some patients, they do not ...

Researchers discover key signaling protein for muscle growth

November 20, 2017
Researchers at the University of Louisville have discovered the importance of a well-known protein, myeloid differentiation primary response gene 88 (MyD88), in the development and regeneration of muscles. Ashok Kumar, Ph.D., ...

New breast cell types discovered by multidisciplinary research team

November 20, 2017
A joint effort by breast cancer researchers and bioinformaticians has provided new insights into the molecular changes that drive breast development.

Brain cell advance brings hope for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

November 20, 2017
Scientists have developed a new system to study Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in the laboratory, paving the way for research to find treatments for the fatal brain disorder.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.